Last year was our first year participating in our church’s Trunk or Treat event as Dorothy and the scarecrow, and I did a tutorial about ruby slippers. This year, after a failed attempt at a theme based on the movie “Up,” we’ve decided to be a mermaid and a pirate! When I was a little girl, one of my favorite movies, like so many little girls, was The Little Mermaid. (The only difference between me then and little girls now is that I got to see it when it came out in theaters!)
I have to admit, we’re cheating a little. Remember the pirate costume we put together for the hubs for the renaissance festival?
Yeah, I think I’ll make a vest and call it a day. With a costume as elaborate as a mermaid, I need all the extra help I can get. Especially considering our car’s trunk is going to be dressed up as a giant clam shell. Uh huh.
The pirate costume consists of a thrifted large ladie’s linen shirt (a t-shirt will do,) thrifted men’s linen pants, jaggedly cutoff (khaki will do,) a head scarf (or a hat!) a belt, a piece of “creepy fabric” from the dollar store tied at the waist, and plenty of jingly and sea-shell-y jewelry (thrifted and from home.) Hubs just happened to have a wooden sword – don’t ask. Add black, smudged eyeliner, maybe an eyepatch, a scar or two, and you’re a pirate! A tried and true, easy & traditional costume.
Now for the mermaid.
The unfinished costume.
Let me first say, I still need to add fins to the bottom of the skirt, using blue and green tulle. I got lucky and scored a bright red (unused) wig from Goodwill for $5, that I’m excited to be able to reuse for costumes like Poison Ivy, Jessica Rabbit, and other fantasy creatures. Any time you can find an “investment” costume piece, go for it!
I made “face fins” inspired by a cool makeup tutorial: http://youtu.be/b5DkwjEelW0. I used blue floral wire and the same tulle as my tail fins, then got a little fancier and hand sewed gold and green sequins to the tulle with gold thread. The tutorial will teach you how to shape and attach the fins.
The “bra” shells are made from purple felt and scraps of iridescent fabric. I drew a simple pattern for the shells about the size of my bra cup, then traced the pattern with a marker onto the felt. I did the same with the iridescent fabric, marking a pretty wide margin outside the line of the pattern. After cutting out the shell shapes, I began stitching the iridescent fabric on top of the felt, puckering the iridescent fabric to create ridges, and gathering the straight stitches tightly to creat a slight curve to the shell. Then I stitched the outline of the shell, and added some natural shells and fake pearls to the bottom of the “cup.” In the picture, the shells are just pinned onto a nude tank top. I plan on pinning them a little higher with safety pins on Halloween.
I created the tail from stretchy metallic knit that I had leftover from a goddess costume. The fabric isn’t the cheapest (I found it on sale,) but you only need a couple of yards. I traced a fitted, pencil-style skirt with chalk on the back of the fabric, down to knee length, marking where the knees were, and then tapered off into a v-shape at ankle length. I folded the top of the waist on each piece down and sewed to create a neat edge. Then I pinned the pieces (pretty sides together) and sewed seams down to the mark I made for knee length. I sewed a zipper into one of the side seams – it’s really easy! – and cut the excess fabric from the seams. The end result is a tail-shaped fin with slits on each side from the knee down. I plan to cut tulle into fin shapes and sew it to those slits to create the illusion of a mer-fin. Similar to this:
Another great idea for a pin-up style mermaid!
There are so many different ways to do mermaid makeup, I won’t even attempt to suggest one to you. Youtube and Google are full of ideas from natural looks to wacky ones, like the link a few paragraphs up. I will, however, suggest some false eyelashes! I was able to find some in red to match my wig. I also found some fake pearls in colors to match my costume, along with some abalone shell beads, and I’m creating some very under-the-sea jewelry.
As far as the giant shell for our trunk is concerned? You can see it peeking out at the bottom right corner of the pic of my mermaid costume … it’s made from 6 pieces of foam board, cut with a razor, painted with acrylic and accented with some glitter. I’ll either tape or “sew” it together with monofilament (fishing line) and cut a hole in the middle piece of the bottom portion of the shell for a stool to sit on. I’ll sit and blow bubbles as the pirate hands out candy from our treasure chest – a plastic shoe box covered in wood-grain contact paper, accented with a skull and crossbones cut from a styrofoam headstone.
I’ll be sure to post pics of the end result next Monday! Do you have a cool mermaid costume to share?
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